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Sheriff's race too close to call

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington looks over some early precinct results at the Board of Elections office on Parker Road.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington looks over some early precinct results at the Board of Elections office on Parker Road.

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George Lopez, left, Eric Levett, candidate for sheriff of Rockdale County, middle, and Ben Sosby check the latest election results at the Democratic Party election headquarters Tuesday evening.

CONYERS -- In a race too close to call Tuesday, Republican Sheriff Jeff Wigington held a razor thin margin over Democratic challenger Eric Levett.

The race for tax commissioner was also close, with Democratic challenger RJ Hadley holding a 350-vote advantage over incumbent Republican Dan Ray, who is seeking his sixth term in office.

Wigington, who is seeking his fifth term as sheriff, ended the vote count Tuesday night with 49.98 percent of the vote compared to Levett's 49.93 percent, a difference of 18 votes.

Cynthia Welch, Rockdale's supervisor of elections, said provisional and military ballots were yet to be counted before the voting record is completed. She said that should be finished by Wednesday afternoon.

Once those ballots are counted, if the losing candidate is within 1 percent of the winning candidate, there will be an automatic recount, Welch said. "We'll know Friday if we need a recount," she said.

The final results will be known before Tuesday, she said.

"Even though Monday is a holiday, we may be working on a recount in order to meet the certification deadline on Tuesday," Welch added.

Wigington said he was not surprised that the race was close.

"I thought it would be close; I didn't know how close or the end result," he said. "I was actually very shocked about some of the other races."

Wigington added that he is satisfied with the campaign effort and will be fine either way the election turns out.

"We worked hard; I'm blessed either way," he said. "I'm going to be fine, but I do worry about the people who work at the Sheriff's Office.

"I do want to thank all the folks who have worked so hard for me," he added. "Keep the Sheriff's Office in your prayers."

Levett also said he anticipated a close race.

"I still feel hopeful," he said. "I feel that the citizens of Rockdale County are speaking. I feel that we are going to have to sit back and wait until the end."

Levett, who said during the campaign that being elected sheriff would fulfill a life-long dream for him, said he felt he ran a positive campaign.

"I made a promise that I would keep my campaign clean and run a positive campaign, and if we have to have a recount I will continue to run a clean campaign and continue to make sure that the citizens of Rockdale County know that I have their best interests at heart," he said.

In the race for tax commissioner, Hadley finished with 50.45 percent of the vote, compared to Ray's 49.5 percent.

Welch said once provisional and military votes are counted, there may also be a need for a recount in that election.

Ray seemed doubtful of a recount Tuesday night.

"Obviously I am disappointed, but the people have spoken and they are ready for a change evidently," Ray said. "So good luck to Mr. Hadley. There are a lot of changes coming with motor vehicle (taxes), so he will have a lot to keep him busy come January."

Hadley, who previously served as chief of staff for Rockdale County Commission Chairman Richard Oden, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

In the race for coroner, Democrat George Levett received 56.53 percent of the votes compared to 43.42 percent for Republican Jo Coggins.

Levett and Coggins, who both work for the Rockdale County Coroner's Office, were each seeking to fill the seat held by Dr. Stephen Boyle. Boyle did not seek re-election.

"I'm surprised. I'm excited. This really is a bittersweet victory. I was hoping my mom would live long enough to see me win, so it's bittersweet and (I'm) just really looking forward to serving as coroner for Rockdale County," said Levett, whose mother died three days ago.

"I want to thank all of the voters who had the confidence in me to vote for me. I plan to serve them in a professional and faithful manner."

Comments

Clark 2 years ago

Good luck Sheriff Wigington!

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Christopher 2 years ago

Well at first I thought Mr. Levett's "I ran because I'm black and so is Rockdale" speech would prove costly for him. I must have forgotten where I lived for a moment. Oh well, at least the better candidate came out on top. Congrads Wigington!

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

God's blessings to Eric Levett....Rockdale County REALLY needs you....BIG TIME!!!!

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

All of God's blessings to Eric Levett!!!! Rockdale County REALLY needs you!!!!

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

God's blessings to Eric Levett!!!! Rockdale County REALLY needs you....BIG TIME!!!!

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DawgsFan 2 years ago

I guess the democrat model- say it three times and its true. I'm open minded so I'll listen to your arguments. Why does Rockdale REALLY REALLY REALLY need Eric Levett? I like him, but I don't see him as a Sheriff at this time.

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Frustrated 2 years ago

the more they say it the more they hope to believe it

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Frustrated 2 years ago

Democrats..see post above

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conyersgirl 2 years ago

Good luck Sheriff, its gonna be a hard job keeping the new county of East Dekalb/North Clayton free of crime. You are surrounded by the bad guys.

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

If Wiginton wins, it definitely needs to be his LAST term....Rockdale certainly needs a change....whether it's Levett or not!!!!

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travelingman 2 years ago

Good riddance to the Good Ol' Boy. Levett is far better.

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rockinglatina 2 years ago

Change is good but most people don't do well with it . Out with the old, in with the new.... I've noticed that diversity is not very welcomed in this county. That's called Ignorance!! We are all God's children no matter how dark or light your skin color is. I always thought with as many churches as this county has, we would be devoted Christians... So sad that most of our citizens in Rockdale are so hypocritical!! Love your brethren and accept their differences, you might learn something new.

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Motohead 2 years ago

It's not about skin color. It's about a rising crime rate, falling property values and proven incompetency.

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Frustrated 2 years ago

Its not about "loving your brethren", its about whats best for the county and its citizens. Change isnt always for the better. Just depends on what the change is. Voting in people that have no experience, cannot be trusted to tell the truth and have already stated THEIR racist beliefs is not good for the county.

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Elmo 2 years ago

"Change" is the meme of the young and malcontents.

The old phrase, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" is in play and those who think that should just try to take care of their own side of the fence, and maybe there's will also turn green.

But the "change" folks want to ruin their own side, and just TAKE over the green side...only to ruin it too.

These are not only black people, but irresponsible and immature people of all colors.

Feeling "held back" or "cheated" out of prosperity because you like to sit on your backside instead of work, is the problem of those who choose that lifestyle.

The first time you fail could be an accident, but the second time you fail at the same thing could be a CHOICE.

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mikeyd 2 years ago

I truly could not have said it better Elmo!!! kudos!

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MsKito 2 years ago

It's not about race -- but you want everyone to know you are latina? 'Diversity' is one thing -- theft, murder, robbery, scamming, and gangs are quite another. Those are 'cultural' differences that I have no intention of accepting.

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BrentLuNae 2 years ago

Every culture has those differences...theft, murder, robbery, scamming, gangs and let us not forget....child molestation, meth sellers, serial killers, rapists, etc. You will find this mess in every race...White, Black, Hispanic, etc.

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Chstew79 2 years ago

"Change" isn't always good. Change for changes sake is not good. People that think the changes going on in this county are a good thing are blind.

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Chstew79 2 years ago

And how would Levett be better? What in his resume tells you he is better?

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onmywayout 2 years ago

I am an African American and have lived in COnyers for over 10 years. My husband and I moved to Conyers because we liked the peaceful, conservative atmosphere. Now completely unqualified people (Aten, Oden, Nesbitt) have secured offices with Wigginton in the balance.

I will be looking to get leave Conyers ASAP! Not interested in being part of another Clayton county embarrassing Saga. Just hope I can sell before it's to late. I'll also be purchasing a weapon to protect my family.

Signed....when will we ever learn.... the color of your skin does NOT qualify you to lead...experience and competance does.

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DawgsFan 2 years ago

Preach it. I moved here because of my parents, but they moved here because this was a great place to raise a family. I stayed because I felt the same. I voted republican, not because I'm white, but because I know what these individuals are and where they come from. They are no good to Rockdale but you're absolutely right, it's time to leave. But it's already too late, you've lost too much on your house. It will cost you to leave, it will cost you to stay... The odds are not in our favor.

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Rockdalepeace2013 2 years ago

It'll be great to see you both go, bitterness is contagious...

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MsKito 2 years ago

Great for working, taxpaying citizens to leave? Nice hateful little note there, "peace".

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Keepitreal 2 years ago

I am African American as well, move here in 03 for the same reason, (peace and quiet ), bring Marta all that will change it is not about race to me its about qualification , and I DID NOT go democrat down the line for what, Read about these people who are running for these offices make in your mind they are for the county NOT them selves.

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BrentLuNae 2 years ago

I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU!!! Unfortunately, we cannot move because our child has several more years in school. We will have to just stick around and fight for what is NOT right and pray. If; however, crime starts growing and becomes as bad as DeKalb or Clayton with bad schools,too, we will have a "For Sale" sign in the front lawn before you can say lickity split!!!

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elcid81 2 years ago

Having been a part of the Conyers Community twice in two decades (once in 1990 and again in 2001), we had to leave few years ago. We saw firsthand the changes in the schools and crime as the city moved out east. I knew Jeff and his family before he was Sheriff and just a man in uniform raising his sons like the rest of us. I am saddened with all the hate and bickering these elections brought. Jeff Wigginton is a good man and even better parent (now grandfather) and husband than one could imagine. I wished I could voted in Conyers for I would voted for the better man. I don't vote for because of a party or because of the color skin... I vote for the person that can do the job and displaysthe moral values/ethics/courage that the office needs to have. Hopefully I will get to return to see my friends in Conyers one day, if they are still there and not run out of town like many others. I surely hope that my friends that cast the absentee ballots help retain Jeff as Sheriff, so he can continue to do what is right.... God bless my old and new friends in Conyers, Old Army

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JayPee 2 years ago

It would be of interest to the Rockdale Republican Party to study this race in detail. Find out why this race is so close and use this strategy in future races.

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Chstew79 2 years ago

I think it is pretty obvious why it was so close.

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JayPee 2 years ago

According to the reasoning of Jason Hill and the Repubs, this should have been another landslide based on race like the other offices. Ridiculous reasoning. There's a reason that Sheriff Wiggington won in 2008 and will probably win again. It is obvious that people are voting cross party lines. But why for Wiggington and no one else? That's the question that they should ask in order to be successful in the future.

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judgedredd 2 years ago

To all that say Mr. Levett has no experience or because he is black and Rockdale is black, you obviously never have given this man a chance. Almost everyone at the Sheriffs Office with the exception to the incumbents cronies did want Eric Levett to win. The people won't pay their Deputies nor will they even listen to them about the race for Sheriff. You have painted alot of them into a corner. Deputies bottom up will be leaving unless y'all, the citizens, demand comparable pay to metro ATL.

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DawgsFan 2 years ago

What makes him a better Sheriff for Rockdale? Wigington has been a fine Sheriff and I think that is apparent based on the votes received last night. Even based on the votes from 2008 when he beat Furgie. He's gone up twice against a democrat challenger twice and has reclaimed his seat. Obviously Levett is better than Fergie but what makes Levett a better candidate for Sheriff than Wigington?

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judgedredd 2 years ago

Let me make one thing clear. I have no personal connections to the SO but I talk to them and I don't turn around and tell there higher ups how they feel. I have a background in the DOD and I know where they come from. In a job like that it's great when a higher up like the Sheriff is involved with his Deputies. They tell me they never see him except in passing and they felt like Eric would be a morale boost. Morale is low and it's mainly because the BOCs are killing them with the pay. The Sheriffs hand are tied in that manner but I am telling you that the SO are tired of getting treated like dogs. Just talk them, they love Sheriff Wiggington, they just don't think he really cares.

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

Whether Levett or not....nothing in Wigington's resume said he was gonna be a good Sheriff!! Hell. he had no experience when he went into office. He just had to get in there an learn himself and he had to go to Sheriff school just like ALL the rest did and will have to....

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

Judgedredd....you are EXACTLY right!!!! That's why so many officers are leaving and the Sheriff Dept is so shorthanded!!!! The outsiders looking in have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE!!!! This is the kind of stuff that is failed to be shared with the overall public. Just want to seem like EVERYTHING is running so well....WELL it's NOT!!!!

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JayPee 2 years ago

I just hope whoever the sheriff is, they get more financial support from the BOC.

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Frustrated 2 years ago

I wouldn't count on it with Oden and Nesbitt at the helm.

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pampsawyer 2 years ago

I hope Jeff win again. He needs to make some serious changes in his dept. There are alot of employees who should have been fired years ago and are still there. Just saying

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maryinga 2 years ago

Whomever comes out the winner I really hope that they stand on their feet and look crime in the face. Time to get tough. And lets hope that the returning people in their positions will not screw up.....again. Conyers can be a friendly place to live and raise your children. Take responsibilty for what you and your children are doing. Do right.
Lets get Conyers back to where it was a freindly place to live, clean up people!

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INJUSTICE_FOR_ALL 2 years ago

CONYERS, is not fixable with the BOC roaches. buy a gun .respect, and learn how to use it.

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disgustedwithpeople 2 years ago

I have lived in Rockdale County all my life and it is so sad to see all the racist comments on here. When you speak in code and say "they" or refer to Rockdale as Dekalb or Clayton County I know it's in reference to African Americans, however when I see the reports from the police blotter, mugshots.com there is a variety of races committing crime in Rockdale. Some people are still living in the fifties and sixties with narrow minds!!!!! Ignorance doesn't have a color!!!!!!

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beautiful_cher 2 years ago

I agree, Rockdale County has got to be one of the most racist counties. The sad thing is that is what is really holding the county back. It's not people of other races migrating here from other counties that is tearing the county down, because believe it or not people of other races want to live in a nice and safe community as well, what is tearing this community down is the narrow minds of some people who think that the 50's way of doing things is the best or only way.

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aspiringmissy1936 2 years ago

It's sad all the small-minded people on here thinking this election is about race. That's just plain stupid!!!! Just like Jeff got his opportunity to lead this county's Sheriff Dept, Levett or anyone else....black or white deserves an opportunity!!!!

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Lorenzo 2 years ago

Jeff and Eric, both are good men. If Eric wins the shock will be on the part of the Rockdale Democratic Committee when Eric refuses to play nice with them. In all the years I have known Eric Levett I have never seen him take sides, make a decision or support another person based on race. Jeff is also a good man who has done an outstanding job for Rockdale County over the years. We are lucky to have people of their caliber making our county safer for the citizens. To those that believe Eric Levett will assist you based on your race....you're in for a rude awakening. As for the rest of the elected officials this time around....Lord, please watch over our county because it is now in the hands of the incompetent and untrustworthy.

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travelingman 2 years ago

To those who say that the election is not all about race: you may have a point but race is a significant factor in the RCSO especially under Wigington and his Good Ol' Boys.

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INJUSTICE_FOR_ALL 2 years ago

IT's all about race. Go ask a 20-30yr old black, white person male and female . Yes Rockdale is a racist place, blacks hate white people and treat them with no respect.

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BrentLuNae 2 years ago

That is absolutely not true. Now, are there some blacks in this county who hate whites? Yes! Are there some whites in this county who hate blacks? Yes! But you CANNOT say that blacks hate whites. My subdivision is filled with whites and I speak or throw up my hand to all of them when I walk through my neighborhood. So, that is really ridiculous to make such a comment and offensive unless you know every black person in Rockdale and you don't!

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judgedredd 2 years ago

The problem isn't the sheriff. The problem isn't the commissioners. The problem is we as citizens did not hold our commissioners responsible for the past 4 years. Race is only a big issue in sImple and shallow minds. The citizens of this county have no clue how bad this is for your 'troops'. The people who come to your aide when you call 911 are drastically underpaid and at the SO the morale is real nill to none. Our Deputies, Firefighters and Dispatchers are all marvelous humans and they should be rewarded. We have let this go on while our commissioner hires/creates upper level positions making 2 or 3 times what a Sheriff/Firefighter/Dispatcher make. Personally I am tired of losing great Deputies to higher pay. I am the type that takes comfort in learning the police force, not despising it. So wake up citizens, throw the easy to call race card on both sides out the window and look at the real issues.

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Frustrated 2 years ago

I agree in part with you. What are you going to do when you have a chairman and his puppet running roughshod over the meetings? Oden doesnt care what the people say or think. He has proven it time and time again with his hiring practices and his spending of taxpayer money.

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Zo 2 years ago

Please post that crossover voting is coming back to bit u all in the rear end...now we have no experience, no education, but popular vote.

.If that was the case we would hv picked Herman Cain that's why they brought the scandal against him.

You all did it by getting rid of Hilary thinking Obama was the weakest. You about to play ur self again because Levette will win the general election. Lol

Read I called it back then http://www.rockdalecitizen.com/news/2012/aug/02/ferguson-blames-loss-on-crossover-voting/#c52966

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Frustrated 2 years ago

Zo go back to sleep no one is interested in your opinion anymore. PLEASE POST

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Zo 2 years ago

Please post I can't tell the truth hurts fusrated please post

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Lorenzo 2 years ago

Zo, either Levett or Wigington and the county wins. You post simply to be antagonistic and are for the most part ignorant of those issues that matter most. Since your buddy Ferguson lost and we don't even have to think about him for 4 years why don't you join him?

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